Burntisland Heritage Trust intend to erect a display panel to commemorate significant people associated with the town. An extensive consultation of the local community has now been completed, and the results can be seen below. The original consultation document can be viewed by clicking here (PDF file, 131Kb, opens in a new window). A rough and ready mockup of the panel can be seen by clicking here (PDF file, 74Kb, opens in a new window).
BURNTISLAND HERITAGE TRUST: COMMEMORATION PANEL
RESULTS OF THE CONSULTATION EXERCISE
The Trust's Commemoration Panel Sub-Committee (Ian Archibald, John Burnett, Helen Mabon, Iain Sommerville) met on 13 February to consider the comments received.
There was a good response to the consultation, and we are very grateful to everyone who took the trouble to let us have their suggestions. It certainly proved to be a worthwhile exercise, and a number of significant changes have been made as a result.
The comments which we received are summarised below, together with our decision on each one.
A number of people suggested that Janet Allan (witch) and Thomas Corstorphin (murdered Town Officer) should not be included on the panel as they were the victims of circumstance rather than positive achievers. We have accepted this, and neither name will feature on the panel. We would, however, hope to commemorate them in some other way. With Thomas Corstorphin, this could be by means of an individual plaque - probably a better bet anyway, as there could well be other local heroes as yet unidentified who might in the future merit similar treatment.
It was suggested that there was no need for David Danskin to be included, as a plaque in his memory was recently erected in the Kirkgate. We did not accept this suggestion, as we believe that the people panel should complement individual commemorative plaques. In fact we would like to see more individual plaques, mounted where possible at locations which have some connection with the individuals being commemorated.
We were asked not to include Sir John Gladstone, because he was at one time a slave owner. He was not on the original A list, and we did not consider promoting him.
We have accepted the suggestion that Wilfrid Ayre (founder of Burntisland Shipyard) should be included.
James Shepherd (who donated the sites for the public library and the new Erskine Church) was also suggested. We decided to widen consideration of him to include other benefactors - specifically the Young family (who donated the first Free Church and School, and the Music Hall) and John Watson (who left a bequest to benefit certain widows in the town). We believe that the Young family's generosity was much more significant than that of James Shepherd and John Watson. We will therefore be including the Youngs on the panel, but not Shepherd and Watson.
We were asked to consider adding the names of war heroes - Sir William Fairfax, Major John Pitcairn and Sir Andrew Wood. We did consider them again, but have decided not to include them.
In making these decisions, a significant limiting factor has been the amount of space available on the panel. However, one of our aspirations for the longer term is for a series of local information panels for specific interesting locations within the town. These would provide scope to mention people (including those mentioned above) who were omitted from the main commemoration panel.
It was suggested that the Kings and Queens who had some connection with Burntisland, and also Oliver Cromwell, should be included. We have accepted that they should be acknowledged in some way - although not on the main commemoration panel, partly because they are in a different category from the other people and partly because of a shortage of space. We have therefore decided to have a smaller and separate panel for them and are currently developing this idea. A possible location would be the paved area at the north end of Union Street. We appreciate that Cromwell was an enemy of the town, and with him we will say something like: "He occupied Burntisland from 1651 to 1660, subjecting the inhabitants to a period of tyranny and oppression."
We received two suggestions on the location of the panel - that it could be fixed to the north pillar at the entrance to the Links, or that it could be attached to the wall of the Town House or Library. We discussed both of these options and carried out site inspections. We ruled out the pillar option because there is insufficient space for the amount of information we are providing. Previous advice from Fife Council indicated that planning permission would not be granted for attaching the panel to the Town House or Library, and probably not to the pillar either.
Although the consultation was primarily about the names to be included on the panel and its location, we received some comments on other aspects.
One suggestion was that there were too many words for one panel - beyond the average person's attention span. We agree that the wording should be as concise as possible, and we have reduced the number of words by 30% compared with the original consultation document. However, the Trust has an educational role too, and we believe that the provision of a reasonable amount of basic information is highly desirable.
A few people told us that they thought the design was unimaginative. It was indeed intended to be simple, but we have reviewed the options available from the specialist firm with which we have been dealing and are now proposing to use this design:
The panel will be cast in relief in bronze, and will include nine modelled heads. A rough and ready mockup of the panel can be seen by clicking here (PDF file, 74Kb, opens in a new window).
We also received some imaginative suggestions of alternatives to the single panel concept - multiple panels (met partially by our planned second panel); a bronze column; and a series of individual plaques set in paved areas. Attractive as these options are, they would all involve considerable extra work - more than we can spare at the present time - and they would also take us over the thresholds for the small grants schemes of the most accessible funding organisations. We are therefore pressing ahead with a single main panel for this project, complemented by a smaller one of similar design for the Kings, Queens and Cromwell (as described above). It will be some time before even these relatively modest proposals can come to fruition because we still have to secure planning permission and other consents, and - crucially - funding.
We will certainly not forget about the more imaginative suggestions, and they may well be appropriate for future projects. In that connection, it is worth mentioning here that Fife Council have within the last few weeks resurrected an idea which they were toying with four years ago, but which they did not pursue at that time. The idea stems from the Burntisland & Kinghorn Townscape Heritage Initiative and is described rather vaguely as "a measure of public interpretation implemented around the town to interpret the built historic environment of Burntisland's Conservation Area for visitors and locals alike". We will be watching developments (if indeed there are any) closely. Public consultation has been promised, and we will ask Fife Council to specifically consult those whom we consulted on the people panel project, including of course those who submitted comments to us.
Trustee, Burntisland Heritage Trust
27 February 2008